Where Do You Stand On Cuba?

Three vignettes from Adbusters Issue 80 capture the ambiguities of a political experiment.

Dixon and Rayid sit on bleachers in a well-lit courtyard waiting for the music to start. We've come to an open-mic night that is held every Sunday behind a darkened mansion that, from the street, looks as if it would not be out of place in a horror movie. This is not the kind of open-mic night I'm used to, where no-name locals practice their art hoping to gain a small fan base to get them started. Here well-known acts sing and play for pennies on a stone stage and you never know who might show up. We are surrounded by Havana's youth, legions of tattooed and pierced hipsters drinking rum from boxes and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. Shauna and I have succeeded in crossing the invisible yet fiercely guarded border that separates Cuban nationals from the ubiquitous tourist. Suddenly there is excitement surrounding one man with tight curls dyed California blond. His name is David Torrens and we are told he is very famous in Cuba. I wonder what it would be like if my favorite musical artist regularly made appearances at our local hangout.

In Havana they have a different kind of advertising. Instead of billboards selling fast food, designer jewelry and beer there is graffiti promoting peace, love and socialism. This wall near the Museum of the Revolution says, "The moral of the revolution is still as high as the stars." But one phrase seems to stand out amongst the rest: Sociolismo o Muerto, – socialism or death. Shauna asks Dixon about these unavoidable reminders of the way Cubans are supposed to think. "This is a phrase that to me is very significant," says Dixon, "within it is a lot of energy. I should fight for something. But socialism is to encircle yourself with one way, one mode, one idea. We don't progress here in Cuba because we are surrounded by this one idea, one place a control of ideas. And progress is a revolution of ideas."

This phrase "Sociolismo o Muerto" seems uncannily similar to Patrick Henry's cry during the US revolution, "Give me liberty or give me death," and I find myself thinking about what it means to fight for something.

Deney, Shauna and I sit on the walls of El Morro, a fort across the bay from Havana, where Deney has brought us so we can watch the sun set over the city he loves. We watch as fishermen float in the bay and it is far too easy to imagine how tempting those rafts seem to the desperate. In the 2007 fiscal year the US coastguard reported interdicting 2,868 Cubans attempting to reach Florida beaches. So far in fiscal year 2008 they are reporting 1,804.

Deney points out a building in the distance that is blocked from view by hundreds of black flags. I can just make out an illuminated red blur on the building. "That's the US Interest building," Deney says, "They have a news ticker that tells us of things happening in the US and around the world. Fidel put up all those flags to try and block the words." Deney is laughing as he says this, he finds the attempts by his government to impede the influx of knowledge ridiculous, but there is sadness in his voice as well as if he feels betrayed that his country doesn't trust him.

54 comments on the article “Where Do You Stand On Cuba?”

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djo984

God bless Cuba and Cubans...look they live without a reliance on America - - - So should we ... Frankly I hope they never open there borders with the U.S...I love vacationing there and knowing the closest Yank is in the florida keys...Nothing against Yanks but they had their chance and they got tossed.

Plus its not cluttered with all your usual consumer bullshit...
Sure Cubans defect but so do Canadians Chinese, Jews and just about every other denomination out there, in Cuba its illegal...Because they probably don't want to lose their talented young population and wind up like americans.

A country full of immigrants who not only hate each other but the rest of the world...

Vibes I've been to Cuba 10+ TIMES IN 4 YEARS.

djo984

God bless Cuba and Cubans...look they live without a reliance on America - - - So should we ... Frankly I hope they never open there borders with the U.S...I love vacationing there and knowing the closest Yank is in the florida keys...Nothing against Yanks but they had their chance and they got tossed.

Plus its not cluttered with all your usual consumer bullshit...
Sure Cubans defect but so do Canadians Chinese, Jews and just about every other denomination out there, in Cuba its illegal...Because they probably don't want to lose their talented young population and wind up like americans.

A country full of immigrants who not only hate each other but the rest of the world...

Vibes I've been to Cuba 10+ TIMES IN 4 YEARS.

I am so wise

" without a reliance on America "

Only if you ignore the remittances that jobs in America allow and other assistance from the US. Geez, if they don't need America why so much lobbying effort to end the embargo---- they need and desperately want American stuff.

I am so wise

" without a reliance on America "

Only if you ignore the remittances that jobs in America allow and other assistance from the US. Geez, if they don't need America why so much lobbying effort to end the embargo---- they need and desperately want American stuff.

Anonymous

As is the same with any culture or ideaology, there are those who love it, and those who wish to change it. In every political ideal, in the end it is those in power that end up better off, and when that power is over thrown, there is a moment of euphoria for the people, and then that power is replaced and the country is simply thrown into another form of depression. I don't believe America should be kept out of Cuba, but I also don't believe that Cuba should be "dealt" with. It is unhealthy to keep sheltered from other ideologies, but equally unhealthy to force them upon others. Unfortunately there is good and bad in all cultures, and the bad is harder to stop than the good encouraged, although it is always there. Freedom comes at a cost.

Anonymous

As is the same with any culture or ideaology, there are those who love it, and those who wish to change it. In every political ideal, in the end it is those in power that end up better off, and when that power is over thrown, there is a moment of euphoria for the people, and then that power is replaced and the country is simply thrown into another form of depression. I don't believe America should be kept out of Cuba, but I also don't believe that Cuba should be "dealt" with. It is unhealthy to keep sheltered from other ideologies, but equally unhealthy to force them upon others. Unfortunately there is good and bad in all cultures, and the bad is harder to stop than the good encouraged, although it is always there. Freedom comes at a cost.

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